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The Nonhyeon-dong massacre
Classification: Mass murderer
Characteristics: Arson - He might have wanted to express his anger towards the rich and high authorities, but as they were difficult targets he lashed out against those who were at hand
Number of victims: 6
Date of murders: October 28, 2008
Date of arrest: Same day
Date of birth: 1978
Victims profile: Women
Method of murders: Set fire in a goshiwon and slashed several women with a sashimi knife
Location: Gangnam-gu ward of Seoul, South Korea
Status: Sentenced to death on May 12. 2009

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The Nonhyeon-dong massacre was a mass murder that occurred in the Gangnam-gu ward of Seoul, South Korea on October 20, 2008, when 30-year-old Jeong Sang-jin set fire in a goshiwon and slashed several women with a sashimi knife. A total of six people died in the incident and seven more were injured.

Jeong was sentenced to death on May 12. 2009.


At about 8:15 a.m., according to police, Jeong, who lived on the third floor of a four-story gosiwon, a low-cost lodging facility, poured gasoline on his bed and set it ablaze. Dressed all in black, wearing a headlamp and hiding his face with a balaclava and goggles he emerged from his smoke filled room and, armed with a sashimi knife as well as two fruit-knifes strapped to his legs and a tear gas gun in a belt holster, began slashing and stabbing the residents of the building who were fleeing the fire.

Five people died of the wounds Jeong had inflicted on them with his knife, one woman died when she jumped out of a window in the fourth floor in an attempt to escape and another seven were injured, four seriously, either by Jeong or the fire. Three of the dead and three of the injured were Chinese citizens.

The fire ravaged in the building for about 30 minutes, before the around 100 firefighters finally succeeded to tame the flames.

At 9:20 a.m. Jeong, initially thought to be another victim, was rescued by a fireman from a storage room in the fourth floor, where he was hiding. When police noticed his peculiar behavior Jeong was interrogated at the scene and he confessed to the crime. He was immediately arrested and brought to Gangnam Police Station, where he was charged with homicide and arson.


Jeong Sang-jin, originally from Hapcheon, North Gyeongsang Province, moved to Seoul in 2002, where he scratched a living with part time jobs as food delivery man or parking valet, though as of April 2008 he was unemployed and had to face severe financial difficulties.

According to unconfirmed reports he was convicted eight times, once for skipping an obligatory training for military reservists, for which he was fined of 1.5 million won.

During interrogations he said he was persecuted since his childhood days and attempted suicide twice during his time at middle school and occasionally suffered from severe headaches since then.


Jeong was in severe financial distress and couldn't pay his rent and mobile phone fees for months prior to the rampage. After his arrest he stated that he didn't want to live anymore, as everyone looked down on him. It was said that he might have wanted to express his anger towards the rich and high authorities, but as they were difficult targets he lashed out against those who were at hand.

Further blame was also laid on the film A Bittersweet Life by Kim Ji-woon, which Jeong was said to like.

Similar incidents

The incident sparked memories of the Daegu subway fire and the arson of the Namdaemun the same year, as well as the Akihabara massacre that happened just a few months earlier.


South Korean man gets death for stabbing spree

The Times of India

May 12, 2009

SEOUL: A South Korean court has sentenced a man to death for killing six people in a stabbing spree last year.

Seoul Central District Court spokesman Kwon Tae-hyung said Jeong Sang-jin was handed the sentence today because his crime was premeditated and "cruel".

Police say Jeong set fire to a Seoul lodging house and then stabbed residents with a sashimi knife. Autopsies found that five victims were stabbed to death and another died after jumping from the building in an attempt to escape.

Police say Jeong was motivated by a combination of psychological distress, financial troubles and a gangster movie.

South Korea has had a de facto moratorium on capital punishment and has not executed anyone since December 1997.


6 Killed in Arson, Stabbing Rampage in South Korea

October 20, 2008

SEOUL, South Korea   A financially strapped South Korean man went on an arson and stabbing rampage in Seoul on Monday, leaving six people dead and seven others wounded, police said.

The 31-year-old suspect, identified only by his surname, Jeong, first set fire to his room in a low-cost lodging facility in southern Seoul and then stabbed other residents with a sashimi knife while fleeing the fire, police said.

Five people were stabbed to death and another died after jumping out of a window to escape the blaze, police said.

Seven others were wounded, including four seriously, and the death toll could rise, according to police.

The suspect, arrested at the scene, told police he did not want to live because "everybody looks down on me," Kim Kap-shik, chief detective at Seoul's Gangnam Police Station, told reporters.

Police said they seized two more knives and a tear gas gun from Jeong.

Such random violence is not common in South Korea, though not unknown.

In 2003, a 56-year-old man with a record of mental illness ignited a carton filled with gasoline on a subway train in the southern city of Daegu. The blaze engulfed the entire train, leaving 198 people dead and 147 injured.

In February this year, a 69-year-old man, upset over a land dispute, started a fire that destroyed a 14th-century gate in Seoul that was considered one of South Korea's most treasured landmarks.

Jeong used to work part time at restaurants and other places, but has been out of a job since April, police said.

His "livelihood was difficult and [he] has been under considerable financial pressure" and could not pay his rent and mobile phone fees for months, chief detective Kim told reporters.

Kim also said Jeong was facing a police investigation for not taking part in annual training for military reservists.

Police said Jeong told them that he had attempted suicide when he was a middle school student, and had been suffering occasionally from severe headaches.

Yonhap news agency and other media reported that Jeong had been convicted eight times of various crimes in the past. Police were not immediately available to comment on the reports.

One of the dead and four of the injured victims were ethnic Korean Chinese citizens working in South Korea, according to media reports.

The lodging facility has 85 tiny rooms on the third and fourth floors of a commercial building. The rooms are rented on a monthly basis and are generally used by low-income people living alone. Sixty-nine people were living in the facility, Yonhap said.

After the blaze started, about 100 firefighters brought the flames under control in half an hour.

Neighboring Japan has been struck by a series of random stabbings this year.

In the worst case, seven people were killed in Tokyo's famous Akihabara electronics district in June when a man slammed a truck into a crowd of people, jumped out and began stabbing passers-by at random.



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